Four J-20 stealth fighter jets of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLA-AF) flew over the Zhuhai Jinwan Airport yesterday in preparation for Airshow China 2018 next week signaling increased deployment of the fifth generation jets believed to be a competition for the US-made F-22.
Two J-20 formations, each consisting of two fighter jets, made a low pass near the airport, after which one of them put on a solo aerobatics performance. The fighter jets soon left without landing at the airport, Chinese media reported.
The flight of the J-20's over the airshow venue, despite the aircraft missing from the list of participating airplanes released by the air show's organizer on Saturday, indicates they make a ‘surprise appearance,’ at the show, state-controlled Global Times newspaper reported Tuesday.
In the previous air show two years ago, the J-20 made its debut with a flyby exhibition for less than a minute at the opening ceremony. This time around the J-20s may conduct low passes in formation and solo aerobatics performances like it did on Tuesday, the newspaper speculated.
China is pitching Airshow China as a display of its aviation manufacturing prowess as well as to attract potential buyers. In the past, China has ruled out the sale of the J-20 and J-31, said to be its answer to the American F-22 and F-35 stealth jets. However, prominent presence at Airshow China of these two aircraft would indicate a potential sales pitch, especially of the J-31 whose US competitor the F-35 has bagged over 250 orders in the US and among its close allies.